Question: I'm 17 and have recently developed a crush on someone younger than me. He's about 15. It sounds really bad when I think about it but he doesn't look 14 or 15 at all. It's not a serious crush but I like him enough to want to talk to him. Is it okay to date him even if he's that young?
A lot of people have questions about age differences when dating. Is it ok to date a younger man or a younger woman? It depends. Sometimes age differences are a big deal and sometimes they're not. Here's how to know if the age difference between you and your beau is a big deal, and what you should do if it is.
When Age Doesn't Matter
When you and your partner are older, a large gap in age generally doesn't matter. If you're 65 and he's 75, it's not as big a deal than if you have a 10 year age gap with your partner when you're younger. Smaller age gaps matter even less as you and your partner grow older. Age gaps when you are younger, however, matter a great deal not only because of legal issues but also because you and your partner are very different emotionally and mentally. Even a two year age difference in your teens can make a big difference in emotional maturity between you and your partner.
When Age Does Matter
Age differences matter a lot when you and your partner are young. For example, if your partner is 15 and you are 20 or even 25, age gaps are a big issue. Even small age gaps, such as your partner being 15 and you being 17 can be a problem. First, think about the legal issues that come up when you date a younger person, especially if you're bordering on 17 or 18. The laws differ from state to state, but dating a younger person could get you slapped with a statutory rape charge even if you and your partner are only a year or two apart.
Dating Without Sex
If you really want to date someone younger than you, or if you're the younger of the couple, you can still date - without sex. To avoid getting into trouble, simply focus on getting to know your partner. Go on group dates to the bowling alley or to the movies, or go out to dinner together. Talk about your favorite things, things that mean a lot to you and encourage your partner to do the same. Really get to know each other to find out if you really want to take this relationship to the next level when you and your partner are old enough to legally be intimate with each other. Remember that there are more ways to be close to someone than through sex. Hold hands, hug and cuddle with each other without having sex. Nowadays, even sexting and sending naked pictures of yourself to your partner's phone can get you into trouble if your partner is under 18, so be extremely careful. Practice patience until legally, you're both ready.